Bernie Ecclestone, a man never known to mince his words, has come out today with a strong, if a little blasé, opinion of matters in Bahrain and it’s potential impact on the opening Grand Prix. He has told the BBC that:
“Our people there say ‘it’s quiet, no problems’.
“I’m more hopeful today. I hope we don’t have to do anything. Let’s hope this all blows away.”
The first part of this particular quote is quite worrying, as we know that Bernie will be talking to the Crown Prince of Bahrain, who reportedly pays $30 million for the race each year. The tensions in Bahrain have arisen because of a public desire to implement a more democratic system of power within the Gulf State, something the ruling Royal Family haven’t taken kindly to. If Bernie is talking to these people, he is probably going to get a misguided impression of goings on there.
People are being injured and even killed in the tensions in Bahrain, and the protesters have stated publicly that the Grand Prix is an event that they will target for their protests. Whilst the Grand Prix weekend is still around 3 weeks away, a decision needs to be taken soon on whether the race should be cancelled or not, as the logistics of moving the teams and their freight to the Middle East is a big deal. Whilst we would all like the F1 season to start as soon as possible, it’s looking like too difficult a situation to hold an event of such magnitude, with hundreds of team members, media and fans all descending on one place for three days. Many insurance companies simply won’t cover these people travelling to a country in political turmoil.
So it was definitely short-sighted of Ecclestone to suggest it may ‘just blow over’ and the Grand Prix would go ahead as normal.